A Better Day

Photo by Caleb Woods. From www.unsplash.com.

Yesterday was a tough day. Since it was Saturday the whole family was home together. I had a headache all day. Abby was tired and crabby and did not want to listen at all. I must have been crabby too, because I heard “Mom, you mad with me?” about a million times. The baby wanted to nurse non-stop. My husband was busy working on projects around the house. Abby ended up going to bed two hours late.

I woke up this morning hoping for a better day and determined to make it one. “Mommy, you my best friend,” Abby said in her sweet little voice as I changed her pull up. “I love you eyes. I love you knees. I love you elbows.” She smiled up at me.

It will always be a good day when I hear that.

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Getting Used to Life with a Newborn Again

Photo by Jenna Norman. From www.unsplash.com

Baby Oscar is now six weeks old. I love having him lay all scrunched up in a ball on my chest. His smell and soft fuzzy head is intoxicating. This week he has even given me several early smiles (I swear they weren’t gassy ones!) It has been wonderful staying home and snuggling with him each day, but I am still trying to get used to having a newborn.

I had forgotten how many noises a newborn makes. Like his sister did, he sleeps in a Pack and Play in our bedroom at the foot of our bed. All night long I find myself sitting up and hurriedly grabbing my eyeglasses from my nightstand so I can check on him after being woken by a strange sound. In my already sleep-deprived state, I have often resorted to sleeping with my head at the foot of the bed, glasses on, positioned so that I can see over the footboard and side of the Pack and Play. He makes lip smacking sounds when hungry, grunts when trying to pass gas or poop, dinosaur-like noises when stretching, kittenish mews, sweet yawns, and pissed off crying screams.

Unlike Abby, who can generally tell me what is wrong or what she needs, I have been plunged back into “what does baby need?” I feel a little more skilled this time around, but it is still hard to assess when Oscar is screaming for no apparent reason. Is it gas? Is he hungry again, so soon? Is something really wrong? Is he over-tired? Too hot? Too cold? Did his sister do something? Was it a spider in his bed? A sleep-deprived brain can come up with anything.

Maybe it is just my anxiety, but I feel the need to check on him whenever I hear something odd, so I don’t get much sleep, even though he sleeps way more than his sister did at this age. You would think that since this is my second child I would be a little more relaxed, but I can’t seem to be. It doesn’t help that a trillion articles about SIDS seem to show up in my Facebook newsfeed each day, making me paranoid.

Another thing I have had to get used to is diaper changes. I must admit I have been peed on quite a few times. I was not prepared for the speed and accuracy at which my tiny baby boy is able to shoot urine. And the poop! This kid uses at least two clean diapers per diaper change because I swear it is his mission to poop as I am changing him or as I am dressing him.

He wants to nurse all the time, and as of yesterday, has gained almost six pounds since leaving the hospital. I don’t mind too much, now that we finally seem to have the nursing thing down pat. I have been trying to get him to take a pacifier, because I think that a lot of the time he acts like he wants to nurse he is just really using me as a pacifier. We’ve tried five different ones and finally found one he will take, but he hasn’t figured out how to keep it in, so unless someone holds it the pacifier pops out and he wakes or gets upset.

With Abby being older I had forgotten how restrictive it can be to have a young baby. He wants to be held all the time. Sometimes I don’t get to take a shower for a couple days. My coffee is constantly going cold before I can drink it. Often I am so busy I forget or don’t have time to eat. The cycle of nurse, change diaper, clean up spit up, seems never-ending. I am waking up every hour and a half again to nurse at night.

I am so relieved that Abby hasn’t shown any signs of jealousy towards her brother. I am sad because I feel like I have to pay so much attention to the baby that I don’t get to spend as much time focusing on and interacting with her. I try to give her extra attention when I can, but it is not always possible. Whereas she always wanted to sit on my lap, have only me get her a drink, snuggle with me at bedtime, etc., now it is “Daddy, come snuggle me!” that comes over the baby monitor at night. I must admit that I can’t help feeling like the third wheel now. I know how my husband must have felt when Abby was in the difficult stage where she only wanted Mommy.

I am so tired that I want to check out at 8:00 p.m. every night. I usually go to bed at 9:00. I feel bad doing that because it means I get little to no time to spend with my husband. No more Netflix in the evenings together. We barely get to have a conversation at dinner time between Abby talking or the baby crying. I hate it because I don’t want him to feel neglected. I miss spending time together.

All too soon my maternity leave will be over and I will return to work. It is going to be so difficult to know someone else is taking care of my baby, to wonder how both kids are doing all day, to know I am missing seeing my baby’s milestones while I am sitting at my desk. For now, I am going to enjoy it while it lasts.

Just Chill

Photo by Viktor Hanacek. From www.picjumbo.com

Having a two-year-old and a newborn is great, most of the time. Abby is old enough that she wants to be my helper. She enjoys fetching burp rags, throwing away diapers, and other small tasks. Other times, it can be an exercise in seeing how long I can keep my cool. Sometimes I swear Abby tries to find as many ways as possible to do the opposite of what I say.

Picture this: the baby is sleeping, Abby is quietly coloring at her small table while watching a cartoon, and I finally get a moment to have breakfast and a hot cup of coffee three hours after everyone else. Immediately, Abby is drawn to the noisiest toy in the room.

“Do not touch that rattle,” I say, “your brother is sleeping.” Her life’s purpose becomes to get that toy, make as much noise as possible, wake the baby, and deny me a much needed moment of peace, quiet, hot coffee, and a moment to myself. When my attention has turned elsewhere she picks up the rattle, shakes it in front of the baby’s face, gives him kisses, trips on a toy, and knocks over a bunch of other toys. “Leave your brother alone!” I hiss. Keep calm, she loves the baby, she wants to help.

“Why?” She asks innocently, although we have had this same conversation probably about five hundred times. She knows the answer.

“Oscar is sleeping, sweetie. You can play with him later, after he has woken up. Babies need a lot of sleep. I need you to be quiet for a while and leave him alone.” I get up to deposit my cereal bowl in the kitchen sink and come back to find her jiggling his bouncy seat and shaking a different rattle in his face. Ugh!

“Oscar, I love you. Oscar! Here’s your toy! Oscar!” She sings in a loud voice. He blinks and squints and squishes up his face before falling back asleep. “Mom, I see him?”

“Abby, please go sit down, away from your brother, and be quiet!” For about three minutes she complies, but then as if someone hit the reset button she is right next to him again. The color book and episode of PJ Masks forgotten.

“Mommy, me give him hugs?” She piles baby toys onto his lap. “Oscar, hi Oscar!” She yells. Luckily, he turned his head to the side and kept sleeping.

I drop the towel I was folding and pick her up. “Please, let him sleep.” I give her a squeeze and a kiss on the top of her head. “He needs sleep. I know you want to play with him, but I need you to let him be. You find something else to play with for a few minutes. I will finish my coffee and finish folding towels. He will wake up on his own when he is ready.”

I fold all of the laundry and walk around the loveseat to the linen closet, literally five feet away. When I glance at Abby she is focused on the TV and sitting on the couch. While my back is turned, for all of twenty seconds placing towels on the shelf, she has scrambled to his side, is rubbing his head with one hand, and is trying to unzip his sleeper with the other.

“Mom, he needs new clothes. I help.”

“Abby-” aaaaand cue the baby crying.

“Just chill out!” I say, not sure if it is to her, the baby, or myself.

OK, it was mostly to myself.

More Ridiculous Things I Have Told My Toddler

Photo by Viktor Hanacek. From www.picjumbo.com

Every day it seems I find myself saying something crazy to my kid. Most of the time I forget to write it down, but occasionally I remember. Enjoy!

1. You’d better watch out, you just about poked yourself in the eye with your toe.

2. Your chicken is not a phone. Eat it.

3. Your turtle doesn’t swim in milk.

4. Don’t rub ketchup in your armpits.

5. Quit licking your toe and go pee.

6. No, I won’t show you my boobs in the middle of Walmart.

7. Crayons do not work better if they are put up your nose.

8. You can’t look through my belly button to see the baby.

It’s a… Whole New World

Photo by Aditya Romansa. From http://www.unsplash.com

At my 19 week prenatal appointment my OB/GYN ordered a sonogram.  I was very excited to finally get our first look at our new little one.  Later that week we went to the radiology department of the hospital.  The technologist asked if we wanted to find out the baby’s sex, which we did.  

It’s a boy!

Boy, was I not ready for that surprise.  No pun intended.

I always thought I would have another girl.  I never considered the fact that it could be a boy.  I mean, I knew it was technically possible, of course.  I just never thought it would happen to me.  

When I was a kid and played house I never pretended to have a boy baby.  I grew up with just a little sister and thought that boys were weird and gross; they talked about poop and farts and boogers and liked to burp, kick each other in the crotch, and to scare girls.  I never even considered what it would be like to have a boy until my amazing nephew came along nine years ago.  He made me think thay maybe a boy wouldn’t be so bad.

I had just naively assumed this baby would be a girl too.  I thought I was ahead of the game and so prepared because I wouldn’t have to buy any clothes.  I would have everything I needed for the baby.  I would have two girls that could play together like my sister and I did.

I am not trying to be silly or dramatic, but it took about a week for me to process and for reality to set in.  I’m having a boy.  Abby will have a little brother.  

I am totally not prepared for a boy!  I don’t have any boy clothes.  I don’t know how to take care of a little boy.  All I know about is being a girl.  Boys are so much different than girls!  Over Memorial Day weekend we took Abby to the zoo.  When we were looking at the giant tortoise exhibit a little boy yelled, “Did you see his butt hole?  Did you see it?  COULD YOU SEE IT, MOMMY?”  Oh Lord, am I ready for this? 

It’s a whole new world.   Ready or not, here it comes!

Five Reasons Why I Love Being a Mom

  1. There is a little person who loves me just as I am, fiercely,fully, and without reservation.
  2.  People always say, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  I look at raising a child as my chance to change the world, my chance to make it better by raising a good, kind, caring, conscientious human being.
  3. I get to watch her learn and grow and discover the world.  It is incredible to see.
  4.  She can always make me smile, no matter how sick or tired or sad I am.  
  5.  She makes me want to be a better person and strive to be better than I am.

Mom’s Marvelous Carrot Cake 

I love my mom’s carrot cake.  It literally is the best carrot cake I have ever tasted.

I am very picky when it comes to carrot cake.  I remember the first time I ever tried carrot cake: I was probably six or seven and my aunt brought out a cake after supper.  I was so excited that we were going to eat cake- then I took a bite and was immediately disappointed.  It was dry and had stringy carrots and my mom made me be polite and eat it all anyway.  I tried carrot cake other times as I got older, but never liked any until finally, Mom convinced me to try hers.  I still haven’t found one that compares.

I made sure to copy my mom’s recipe so I could share it with you.

Ingredients 

Cake:

  • 2 c flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 c oil
  • 1 c white sugar
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp.baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 c grated carrots (I prefer finely chopped in the food processor, rather than grated)
  • 1 c or 1 medium can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1/2 c golden raisins
  • Optional: 1/2 c finely chopped walnuts 

Icing:

  • 1/2 c softened butter
  • 2 8 oz blocks of softened cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 tbsp cream
  • 3 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 1 c walnuts, chopped and lightly toasted

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans.
  • In a large mixing bowl mix the sugar, eggs, and oil.
  • In a separate bowl mix together the flour, spices, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Add dry ingredients into the large bowl containing the wet ingredients. Mix well.
  • Add the carrots, pineapple, and raisins. Mix well.
  • Divide the batter into the pans.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted into the center of each pan comes out clean.
  • Allow the cakes to cool and gently remove them from the pans. Cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
  • With a mixer mix together all the ingredients except the cream and powdered sugar.
  • Slowly add the powdered sugar (This is where I usually make a huge mess)
  • Add the cream, a little at a time until the icing is as soft or firm as you prefer.
  • Place the first cake on a cake plate or in a cake keeper.
  • Frost the cake on all sides and place the other cake on top, then frost it. 
  • Gently press the walnut pieces into the sides of the iced cake.

Store in the refrigerator.  The cake is even better the next day.


The first slice of cake with a side of ice cream. Yum!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

An Early Birthday Dinner: Swiss Steak

Photo: Annie Spray/Unsplash

I don’t know if I have ever mentioned it before, but I have the best parents ever. They always do so much for me and I appreciate them very much. 
Saturday we drove almost an hour to my parents’ house to celebrate my birthday a few days early.   

My photographer husband helped my dad photograph items belonging to my grandparents’ estate in order to begin to sell some of it.  They were busy most of the day.

My mom and I played with Abby and cooked while the men were occupied.

My mom made a special birthday supper of swiss steak with mashed potatoes and cream cheese corn.  I requested this, as this meal has long been a favorite of mine; my grandmother used to make it often when we would come over for a Sunday lunch.  I have many wonderful memories of eating swiss steak off of her octagon shaped pewter plates with my family gathered around the table.  My mom’s swiss steak was just as delicious as I remembered it to be.  In fact, it almost made my father cry because it tasted so much like his mother’s.

For dessert, my mom made her incredible carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.  I was very full from supper, but somehow managed to stuff myself further with cake.  

Abby excitedly helped me unwrap my birthday gifts.  I received some wonderfully soft pajama sets and a pretty kitchen utensil cannister designed by Pioneer Woman.

My mother made me take home the leftover cake, so I will be enjoying it for days to come.  I will post my mom’s cake recipe and photos of the cake tomorrow. 

I apologize that I didn’t get any photos of the Swiss steak before it was devoured,  but I thought I would include the recipe for you.  My grandmother would always serve this dish with mashed potatoes and corn.

Grandma Julia’s Swiss Steak

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs round steak or minute steaks 
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped 
  • 2 cups celery, chopped 
  • 2 cups catsup
  • 1 can Campbell’s tomato soup
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • Flour
  • Salt and pepper 

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Flour steaks and fry brown on both sides.
  • Put steak into a sauce pan or deep pan that has a lid. Place vegetables on top of steak.
  • Add catsup, soup, brown sugar, salt, and pepper.
  • Put in oven and simmer for about 2 hours.
  • Optional: instead of cooking in the oven you can cook using a slow cooker. If cooking on low setting let simmer for 6 hours. If cooking on high setting let simmer for 4 hours.
  • Enjoy!

Jealous of Dad

Photo: Louis Blythe/Unsplash

When I became pregnant I began to prepare for the possibility that my firstborn would become jealous of the new baby.  It’s only natural, it happens.
I remember being jealous of my little sister when she came home from the hospital.  I was so excited to have a sister to play with, but I soon realized that she was too small to play, she cried a lot, and everyone paid a lot of attention to her and I felt left out.  I cut all the hair off of my Fraggle doll, Wembley.

I have had conversations with her about how when Mommy and Daddy bring the baby home the baby will require lots of our attention, but we will still love Abby just the same, always have time for her, and will still give her all the attention she needs.  I don’t think she really understands yet, but that’s OK.  

What I didn’t prepare for was the possibility that Abby would become jealous of my husband.  

In the past couple weeks she has gotten upset when Mommy and Daddy hug or kiss.  If we hold hands in front of her she will try to pull them apart.  When we sit next to each other or try to snuggle together on the couch she will act angry and try to hit my husband or push him away.

We have both tried to explain to Abby that hugging, kissing, and holding hands is how Mommy and Daddy show our love and affection for each other, just as we hug, kiss, and hold her.  I’m not sure how to get through to her that Mommy isn’t just hers.  Nothing we say seems to make a difference. 

I know and try to reassure my husband that this is just a phase she is going through and that will not last too long, but it is frustrating, especially for my husband. 

Has this ever happened to you?  How did you handle the situation?